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Wear to Now? The Changing Shape of Sustainable Fashion Revolution

2nd May 2019

Northumbria University is holding an exciting exhibition within the University’s School of Design: Wear to Now? The Changing Shape of Sustainable Fashion Revolution.

The exhibition displays specific fashion projects that have been created, designed and run by academic staff and students.

It is an opportunity for fashion students to showcase their ideas and work-in-progress across three different briefs, designed to question consumer attitudes, habits and mind-sets. The exhibition is split into four areas.

The first called on Northumbria’s BA Fashion Communication 2nd year students to help devise PR campaigns that celebrate the concept of 'Loved Clothes Last', using practices such as thrifting and upcycling, and a make do and mend ethos to encourage a more ethical and sustainable future for fashion. The display includes graphic posters summarising their PR proposals and film storyboards planning fashion films that may persuade viewers to question their consumption habits and provide sustainable creative alternatives.

This project was devised by Catherine Glover, Senior Lecturer in Fashion Communication in a unique collaboration with Orsola de Castro, co-founder of Fashion Revolution. Fashion Revolution is a global movement campaigning for a drive in a fairer, safer, cleaner and more transparent fashion industry.

The initiative stems from the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh, which saw the collapse of a building in 2013 housing five garment factories, resulting in the deaths of 1,134 people, with a further 2,500 injured, making it the fourth largest industrial disaster in history. 

Speaking about this project, Catherine said: “It is exciting to share our fashion students’ inspiring ideas in progress and creative concepts for promotional campaigns, around the concept #lovedclotheslast. They have embraced the true challenge of our collaborative brief with Fashion Revolution, which is to question their own consumer attitudes, habits and mindset and then create persuasive content that might influence others to do the same. We hope that the action starts here for them in contributing to a collective, sustainable way of engaging with fashion.”

Orsola added: “It is very exciting for Fashion Revolution to be working alongside Northumbria University students on this important brief. “The most sustainable clothes are the ones that are already in circulation so to raise awareness on how cool it can be to wear second hand to change the world is truly a solution focused way to make a difference.”

The second brief 'Fashion Tent' looked specifically at repurposing tents, focusing on 20 abandoned tents that were left behind on the site of Leeds Festival. These tents were collected by Northumbria academics then used in a project by 1st year BA Fashion students to create sculptural and wearable garments to demonstrate how discarded items can be upcycled. Jenni Moore, Lecturer in Fashion, said: “The garments presented are a clear demonstration of what can be achieved when leftover items are reused creatively, rather than being sent to landfill.”

The fashion tent garments are displayed with 'story labels' that discuss the journey of the design process as told by the student designers, and they are exhibited on bamboo tripods rather than mannequins.

The third section comprises the work of first year BA Fashion Design and Marketing students, who were tasked with developing a campaign to modify and adapt consumer behaviour, focusing on a brand of their choice and using creative marketing methods to work towards reducing environmental and social impact of the fashion industry. Alana James, Senior Lecturer in Fashion, said: “I have been working with BA (Hons) Fashion Design and Marketing students to understand how collaboration between fashion consumers and companies can begin to move the fashion industry to a more sustainable future.

“Students were encouraged to push the boundaries of traditional marketing methods to develop innovative initiatives to influence consumer behaviour, focusing on small changes which could potentially have large-scale impact. Understanding of social and environmental impact within the fashion industry is absolutely paramount for a student studying in a design discipline, this project was a great way for students to demonstrate their knowledge and engage in challenges increasingly impacting society.”

In the fourth section of the exhibition entitled 'Re-Focus on Fibres', a number of Northumbria’s academic staff and researchers from the School of Design are sharing their research in progress with displays including micro-fibres, discussing knitwear using a 'slow' design ethos, celebrating Harris Tweed and its community activity, and craft-based textiles that explore sustainable identity. The section illustrates the research–teaching nexus at work and the real need to embrace knowledge-building opportunities and to contribute collaboratively and collectively to a more sustainable future.

Exhibition literature is printed on Extract Moon Paper, donated by G.F. Smith made from recycled coffee cups. 

The exhibition runs from 17 April until 13 May in the School of Design Foyer area and is open to the general public.

You can find out more about how to get involved with the Fashion Revolution here. The exhibition span has covered Fashion Revolution Week (22-28th April) when the organisers encouraged people to ask #WhoMadeMyClothes.

For more information on Northumbria School of Design, visit 


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